Take a walk around any city block and you might get a basic taste of the people and places that make up that community. Take a walk with Katherine Wright around the block where she works, and you learn far more.
For example, you meet Kojak, who sits outside his apartment most days keeping watch on the comings and goings of both neighbors and strangers, and Sammy, owner of the local convenience store, who they call the mayor of the block because he knows everyone and helps out neighbors in need.
You learn about those who aren’t out and about that day, and see the concern in Wright’s eyes when she wonders where they might be. You also learn that Wright and those she works with are an integral part of the neighborhood.
Wright is the office coordinator of Sharp’s Senior Health Center in downtown San Diego, where team members are dedicated to providing specialized care to meet the unique needs of the area’s underserved seniors.
Their comprehensive outpatient program offers both medical and behavioral care as well as social services to ensure that patients can continue to live healthy, independent lifestyles.
“We become our patients’ family,” says Wright. “We know them all so well and welcome them in with open arms for their appointment, or even when they are just stopping in to take a break from the heat or simply to say hello. They will often tell us how much they like coming to the center because they know we care about them.”
It’s not just the senior center visits that are special to patients. It’s also the calls that Wright and other staff members make to confirm an appointment or check in with patients they haven’t seen in a while, and the dozens of greeting cards they send out each month.
“Each card we send out is signed by every member of our team,” says Wright. “They are personalized for the individual patient and it shows them how important they are to us.”
These cards are more than a simple gesture to the recipients. They represent the exceptional care the senior center offers, and are often the only compassion they may receive when they’ve lost a loved one, aren’t feeling well or are celebrating a birthday.
Some seniors are so appreciative that they send a thank you card in response to receiving a card. One senior even turned her birthday card into a necklace pendant and wore it to her next appointment. Another health center patient admitted he cried when he received his birthday card — the only birthday wishes he received that day.
“We really love our patients and they know it,” says Wright. “I believe what we do here is the essence of The Sharp Experience because we are a part of our patients’ lives — the good and the bad — and we encourage them and guide them to be able to live healthy, active lives.”
For more information about Sharp Senior Health Centers, located in downtown and Clairemont, or to make an appointment, visit www.sharp.com/seniors.